Surf's Up (film)

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Surf's Up
Surfs upmp.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced byChris Jenkins
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Chris Jenkins
  • Christian Darren
Music byMychael Danna
Edited byIvan Bilancio
Distributed byColumbia Pictures[2]
Release date
  • June 8, 2007 (2007-06-08)
Running time
85 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$100 million[3]
Box office$149 million[4]

Surf's Up is a 2007 American computer-animated mockumentary comedy film directed by Ash Brannon and Chris Buck.[5] It features the voices of Shia LaBeouf, Jeff Bridges, Zooey Deschanel, Jon Heder, Mario Cantone, James Woods, and Diedrich Bader among others.[5] In production since 2002 at Sony Pictures Animation, it was the studio's second theatrical feature film. The film premiered in the United States on June 8, 2007, and was distributed by Columbia Pictures. It is a parody of surfing documentaries, such as The Endless Summer and Riding Giants, with parts of the plot parodying North Shore. Real-life surfers Kelly Slater and Rob Machado have vignettes as their penguin surfer counterparts. To obtain the desired hand-held documentary feel, the film's animation team motion-captured a physical camera operator's moves. It was also nominated at the 80th Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature, but lost to Pixar's Ratatouille. A sequel, titled Surf's Up 2: WaveMania, was released direct-to-video on January 17, 2017.


A documentary crew follows the misadventures of Cody Maverick, a 17-year-old northern rockhopper penguin who lives in Shiverpool, Antarctica with his mother Edna and his older brother Glen. Cody has wanted to be a professional surfer ever since a visit from legendary surfer Ezekiel "Big Z" Topanga several years ago. When a talent scout shorebird named Mikey arrives to find entrants for the "Big Z Memorial" surfing contest, Cody jumps at the chance despite the lack of support from his family. En route to the contest, Cody befriends another entrant, Chicken Joe, an air-headed rooster from Lake Michigan.

The entrants arrive at Pen Gu Island, the site of the contest, where Cody meets and immediately falls in love with Lani, a female gentoo penguin who is a lifeguard. He also meets a wise-cracking sea otter named Reggie Belafonte and his arrogant penguin best friend, Tank "The Shredder" Evans. Tank has won the Big Z Memorial nine times since it was first held after Z's alleged death during a previous match ten years ago. Cody sees him vandalizing Big Z's memorial and immediately challenges Tank to a surfing duel. Tank easily wins the duel while Cody nearly drowns. Lani rescues him and takes him to her uncle, the "Geek", to help Cody recover from his injuries. Cody wakes up and panics when he can't find the souvenir necklace he got as a kid from Big Z. Geek criticizes the necklace, but decides to return it when he later finds it in his hut.

While returning the necklace, Geek finds Cody sitting on a koa log and offers to help him make a perfect surfboard. They attempt to take the log back to Geek's house, only to lose control of it and end up on a beach far away from the contest. When Cody gets to the beach, he discovers a shack full of old trophies and surfboards, which are actually Z's belongings. After observing Geek sadly looking in the shack, he realizes that Geek is actually Z and asks him to teach him how to surf. Reluctantly, Z agrees, but says that Cody has to make his own board first.

Meanwhile, Joe goes on a search in the jungle to find Cody. During the search, he comes across native Pengu-ins. Unfortunately, they kidnap him and is thrown in a cooking pot, in which Joe mistakenly thinks is a 'hot tub'. Despite their vigor, the Pengu-ins bumbling nature allows Joe to safely leave the camp and continue his quest. The next day, Joe comes across them again. Realising that they're hungry, Joe gives them squid-on-a-stick, a food that taste closely to their favourite, chicken and they soon start befriending him.

Cody's board making attempt doesn't go well, however, as an impatient Cody doesn't listen to Z's advice and makes an unstable board that shatters as soon as he tries to enter the water. Angry, he storms off, running into Lani, who eventually persuades him to return. That night, after riding in the island's lava tubes, a happier, more patient Cody works on a new board, finishing it by morning, and falls asleep.

Z compliments Cody on his board, but when Cody is eager to start training, he instead has him do seemingly menial tasks unrelated to surfing. Losing his patience with Z, he places him on the board and pushes him into the water while he is asleep as a prank. Z asks him if he had fun, and when Cody says "yes", Z takes him to the water and begins teaching him how to surf the waves, both being joined by Lani. Afterwards, Cody asks Z if he'll come watch the contest, but Z refuses, saying he faked his death because he realized he couldn't compete with his then-new rival Tank, and that he was disillusioned. Not impressed that Z just gave up, Cody morosely throws the necklace Z gave him to the sea and leaves, meets up with Joe & the Pengu-ins and gets back to the contest just as it begins. Cody finds that Reggie is working for Tank to kill Cody and he'll help him win the surfing contest for the tenth time.

Tank easily makes it to the finals, as do Cody and Joe. In the semifinals, Tank battles with Cody, with Tank trying to throw him off his board, but Tank falls off his own board and loses. During the finals, however, Tank bursts in and tries to hit Joe off his board. Cody intervenes at the last minute, sending him and Tank out of bounds and into a surfing obstacle known as the Boneyard, which has killed surfers who have ventured there. Tank punches Cody off his board before crashing, and is rescued by Lani. Z, who had been secretly watching Cody's performance, rescues Cody from a gigantic wave and helps him get back to the beach safely.

Z and Cody find out that Joe won by default since Tank and Cody were disqualified. However, Cody accepts the loss, having decided he'd rather just have fun instead. Z reveals himself to the spectators and invites all of them to surf at his beach. Cody finishes his interview with a reflection of the past events and then joins the rest of his friends in the water.

Before the credits begin, Glen & Edna are interviewed and Edna is happy about Cody bringing home the trophy. When one of the crew members reveal that Cody lost, Glen starts to crack up. Edna then tells that he must be more like Cody.

In the post-credits scene, Glen kicks the crew out by throwing their equipment out the window, and telling them to “Go back to Hollywood”, much to Edna's dismay.

Voice cast[edit]


Surf's Up: Music from the Motion Picture
Surf's Up Soundtrack.jpg
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
ReleasedJune 5, 2007
GenreFilm soundtrack
LabelColumbia Records

Surf's Up: Music from the Motion Picture was released on June 5, 2007. The following 14 songs are on the Sony's official film soundtrack.[6]

1."Reggae Got Soul"3113:09
3."Stand Tall"Dirty Heads3:11
4."Lose Myself"Lauryn Hill4:35
5."Just Say Yes"Ken Andrews3:40
6."Forrowest"Forro in the Dark4:44
7."Pocket Full of Stars"Nine Black Alps3:32
8."Into Yesterday"Sugar Ray4:11
9."Big Wave"Pearl Jam2:57
10."Wipe Out"The Queers1:41
11."Run Home (Instrumental)"Priestess3:37
12."What I Like About You"The Romantics2:57
13."You Get What You Give"New Radicals4:57
14."Hawaiian War Chant (Ta-Hu-Wa-Hu-Wai)"Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys3:14
Total length:50:17

According to the film's end credits, the version of "Wipe Out" heard in the film is actually performed by the punk band The Queers. The official soundtrack includes this version under the pseudonym "Big Nose", presumably for marketing purposes.[7][8] Two songs by Green Day, "Welcome to Paradise" (the version from the album “Dookie”) and "Holiday" in an instrumental version, are used for background music in the film.[9] Neither song appears on the official soundtrack album. In the primary teaser trailer, the song "Get on Top" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers can be heard in the background. "Welcome to Paradise" was also used in the second trailer promoting Surf's Up, as well as "Three Little Birds" by Sean Paul featuring Ziggy Marley. The DVD and Blu-ray behind-the-scenes featurette entitled "Making Waves" features the song "The Water", performed by Venice. This also does not appear on the "Surf's Up" soundtrack, but can be found on Venice's "Garage Demos Part 2: Fast Stuff" CD.

Surf's Up: Original Ocean Picture Score was composed for the film by Mychael Danna and it was released on a limited edition (of a thousand units) 23-track CD.[10]



To promote the film's release, surfboard wax bearing the film's logo and a rendering of Cody was given out at the 2006 San Diego Comic-Con. On June 8, 2007, McDonald's issued eight Surf's Up toys in their Happy Meals for one month. In the Australian market, a few small plush characters of Cody, Lani, Chicken Joe, and Geek replace some of the toys in the US lineup. There was also a tie-in with the candy Air Heads which introduces a "New Wave" flavor (pineapple) and four collectible lenticular motion surf board shaped pieces. Build A Bear stores sold plush toys of the film's protagonist, Cody Maverick. Patrons could "build" their own Cody as well as dress him up in an array of surf-themed clothing and other accessories in Build A Bear workshops. They could also purchase Cody and accessories at the official site. Several plushes from Nanco intended for claw machines can also be found and purchased in varying sizes (from 6 inches to 11 inches to 17 inches). Characters available: Cody, Lani, Tank, Geek, Big Z, Chicken Joe, and Reggie Belefonte. A rare set of larger (Geek measures 15 inches) and higher quality plushes had been made available at the premiere's after party. Won either through available games, or given away with gift sets for attendees. Cody, Lani, Arnold and Geek were created and so far no plans for the dolls to be sold commercially have appeared. A series of children's 100 piece puzzles are available as well depicting various characters and setups. Five inch waterproof plush tub toys released by Jakks Pacific in minimal quantities to most major retailers. Five characters were produced, including Cody, Tank, Big Z, Arnold, & Chicken Joe. Each character has an attached washcloth/surfboard, but sport questionable likenesses (and in the case of Chicken Joe, entirely off model, bearing more of a resemblance to Mikey). Along with the release of the film, a companion Surf's Up video game was released by Ubisoft for all the current video gaming systems on the market. All versions of the game are the same with mild graphical differences, with only the Nintendo DS version changing the overall format.

Home media[edit]

Surf's Up was released on high-definition Blu-ray Disc, PSP UMD Video and DVD in the United States on October 9, 2007. The DVD and Blu-ray included two animated short films: The ChubbChubbs! and The ChubbChubbs Save Xmas, the latter of which premiered with this release.[11]


Critical response[edit]

Surf's Up has a 79% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 147 reviews; the average rating is 6.67/10. The site's consensus reads: "Surf's Up is a laid-back, visually stunning animated movie that brings a fresh twist to some familiar conventions. Its witty mockumentary format is fun and inventive, and the CGI is breathtakingly realistic."[12] Metacritic gave the film a score of 64 out of 100 based on 26 reviews.[13] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "A-" on scale of A to F.[14]

Some reviews noted that in spite of it coming so soon after many films featuring penguins (March of the Penguins, Madagascar, and Happy Feet), Surf's Up was able to stand out on its own. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times reviewed: "The originality of the documentary format coupled with the splendid CGI effects qualifies Surf's Up as not just another penguin movie."[better source needed][15] The Dallas Morning News critic Nancy Churnin agreed: "Sorry, cynics, Surf's Up is a charmer. And if the birds look somewhat familiar, they have something fresh to say about friendship and what winning is all about."[better source needed][16] While James Berardinelli of ReelViews said: "If you have to see one penguin movie, this is it",[17] Kyle Smith of the New York Post had a different opinion: "Maybe the next penguin flick will do more justice to the subject."[18] Roger Moore of Orlando Sentinel gave the film a positive score, noting that it was "beautifully animated, terrifically acted and edited in a way that hilariously mimics those Endless Summer surf documentaries."[19] Conversely, Bill Muller, The Arizona Republic's critic, disliked almost everything: "From the nondescript voices to routine animation to an over-written story, this movie spends much of its time gasping for air."[20]

Box office[edit]

The film opened at number four and grossed $5,804,772 at the box office on its opening day in North America. It grossed $17,640,249 in its opening weekend. The film grossed $58,867,694 in North America, and $90,176,819 in the other territories, making the total worldwide gross $149,044,513.[4]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients Result
Academy Awards[21] February 24, 2008 Best Animated Feature Ash Brannon and Chris Buck Nominated
Annie Awards February 8, 2008 Best Animated Feature Surf's Up Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Animated Effects in an Animated Production Deborah Carlson Won
Animation Production Artist John Clark Won
Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in an Animated Feature Production Alan Hawkins Nominated
Dave Hardin Nominated
Outstanding Character Design in a Feature Production Sylvain Deboissy Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production Ash Brannon and Chris Buck Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Feature Production Marcelo Vignali Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production Denise Koyama Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production Don Rhymer, Ash Brannon, Chris Buck and Christopher Jenkins Nominated
Georges Award Unknown Best Animated Movie Surf's Up Nominated
Golden Reel Awards February 23, 2008 Best Sound Editing - SFX, Foley, Dialogue & ADR for Feature Film Animation Steven Ticknor, Martin Lopez, Michael J. Benavente, Jason King, Ulrika Akander, Gary A. Hecker and Michael Broomberg Nominated
MTV Russia Movie Awards April 26, 2008 Best Cartoon Surf's Up Nominated
Saturn Awards June 25, 2009 Best Animated Feature Surf's Up Nominated
VES Awards February 10, 2009 Best Single Visual Effect of the Year Rob Bredow, Lydia Bottegoni, Daniel Kramer and Matt Hausman Nominated
Outstanding Performance by an Animated Character in an Animated Motion Picture David Schaub, Moon-Jung Kang, Brian Casper and Andreas Procopiou Nominated
Outstanding Performance by an Animated Character in an Animated Motion Picture David Schaub, Peter Nash, James Crossley and Shia LaBeouf Nominated
Outstanding Effects in an Animated Motion Picture Rob Bredow, Daniel Kramer, Matt Hausman and Danny Dimian Nominated
Young Artist Awards March 29, 2009 Best Family Feature Film (Animation) Surf's Up Nominated


A direct-to-video sequel, titled Surf's Up 2: WaveMania, was released on January 17, 2017. The film stars WWE superstars John Cena, Triple H, The Undertaker, Vince McMahon, and Paige.[22]


  1. ^ "Surf's Up". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  2. ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa. "Surf's Up". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  3. ^ "Surf's Up". The Numbers. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Surf's Up". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Surf's Up". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved July 4, 2016.
  6. ^ "Surf's Up (Music from the Motion Picture)". iTunes. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  7. ^ Surf’s Up (DVD). Sony Pictures Animation/Columbia Pictures. 2007.
  8. ^ "Surf's Up (2007)". The Soundtrack Info Project. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
  9. ^ "Surf's Up (2007)". The Soundtrack Info Project. Retrieved 2009-12-30.
  10. ^ "Surf's Up (Original Motion Picture Score)". iTunes. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
  11. ^ Desowitz, Bill (July 30, 2007). "Surf's Up DVD to Include New ChubbChubbs Short". Animation World Network. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  12. ^ "Surf's Up (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  13. ^ "Surf's Up". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  14. ^ "Cinemascore". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  15. ^ Ebert, Roger (June 8, 2007). "Critic Review - Chicago Sun-Times". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  16. ^ Churnin, Nancy (June 8, 2007). "Critic Review - Dallas Morning News". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  17. ^ Berardinelli, James (June 9, 2007). "Surf's Up". Reelviews. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  18. ^ Smith, Kyle (June 8, 2007). "THESE PENGUINS RIDE THE MILD SURF". New York Post. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  19. ^ Moore, Roger (June 8, 2007). "Surf's Up (4 stars out of 5)". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on 2018-12-17. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  20. ^ Muller, Bill (June 8, 2007). "Surf's Up". Arizona Republic. Retrieved October 9, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "The 80th (2008) Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  22. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (December 1, 2016). "Catch 'Wavemania' in Sony's 'Surf's Up 2' Trailer". Animation Magazine. Retrieved December 1, 2016.

External links[edit]